PCC’s REBOOT programme helps 60 ‘at risk’ youths in the first six weeks
The first Early Intervention Youth Programme of its kind in the UK has now been fully mobilised across Sussex and has begun to steer more than 60 young people away from criminality in just the first six weeks.
The most recent crime stats show that nationally and locally there has been an increase in serious violence and crimes involving a knife have risen by 2% in Sussex, against a national rise of 6%.
More and more vulnerable young people across the county are being targeted by organised crime groups and exploited to carry out their criminal biddings, including carrying knives. Early Intervention is key to tackling this issue and Sussex Police & Crime Commissioner Katy Bourne secured nearly £900k from the Government to implement her REBOOT programme pan-Sussex.
The programme (launched on 1st April) is now working to bolster diversionary activities for young people to create positive social distractions. It will also, for the first time, take a full partnership approach to safeguarding which will see Sussex Police, the NHS Partnership Trust, the Youth Offending Service and local charities working together to provide a referral pathway for young people who show early indicators of serious violence.
It was originally estimated that the programme would see 20-30 referrals a month. However, in the past six weeks Sussex Police have accepted 60 young people through the protocol which demonstrates the extent of the issue and the need for this early intervention.
Sergeant Christopher Varrall, REBOOT progamme manager, comments: “REBOOT is very much a non-criminal, supportive approach to diversion. It will see young people who are experiencing challenges in their life - that may lead to their involvement in criminality - being referred through a proven 5-stage protocol with the final stage set as the only enforcement element; civil injunction.
“Three new REBOOT coordinators are now working for Sussex Police, funded through the programme, to manage the influx in referrals in partnership with the local prevention teams. £64,000 of the funding is also being used for NHS nurses to assess and divert young people from mental health, social circumstances, alcohol, drug misuse and communication issues.
“YMCA DownsLink Group has now employed nine experienced coaches to deliver 1:1 mentoring and group sessions to young people across Sussex and an enabling fund has been implemented to bolster existing local sports and cultural activities. These coaches will start working with young people who have been flagged as ‘at risk’ from today (May 21st).
“This is very much a partnership approach to a societal problem and it is the first of its kind in the country.”
Sussex Police & Crime Commissioner Katy Bourne comments: “Too often young people from challenging backgrounds fall into the ‘wrong crowd’ and focus too heavily on the negatives in their life with no positive distraction. This then makes them a prime vulnerable target for organised crime groups who seek to coerce them into carrying out their criminal biddings. As a result, knife crime, drug-related crime and anti-social behaviour are starting to become an increasing issue with our young people.
“I am committed to using innovative diversionary techniques to tackle this problem. I want to safeguard our most vulnerable young people and give them opportunities they otherwise wouldn’t have. What makes this programme unique is both the partnership approach and the fact that it does not impose an alternative to crime onto the young person. Instead it gives them the tools they need to make an informed decision for themselves on how they would like to spend their time positively and educates them on the consequences of their actions.”